Safety First When Celebrating Labor Day!

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There’s one thing I always say to my younger siblings when I know they’re hanging out with family or friends on a holiday weekend.
“Be smart! Be safe! Have fun!”
Your Labor Day weekend can be fun and safe at the same time! It’s normally a fun-filled weekend because it’s one of the last chances to be in the water, grill out, and enjoy the weather before the season change. While no particular Labor Day activity is unsafe, the combination of festivals, travel, boating, swimming, food, and alcohol requires us to be extra conscious about safety.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure your holiday adventures are as safe as possible.
If you’ll be traveling, traffic will be heavier than normal. When driving, follow these tips:
  • Don’t drink and drive! Designate a driver, please.
  • Watch for motorcycles!
  • Follow the speed limit.
  • Eliminate distracting driving, like texting on cellphones.
  • Remain alert and drive defensively.

If you’ll be on the water, there will be lots of boaters and swimmers. On the water, remember to:

  • Know weather conditions before/throughout the day.
  • Have a swim buddy in all areas.
  • Constantly supervise children in or near the water.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets.

If you’ll be cooking out, be mindful of the dangers. When grilling, be sure to:

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  • Keep the grill away from anything that could catch fire, like the house or tree branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Do not use charcoal starter or lighter fluid once coals have already ignited.
  • Keep your grill clean.

One thing that can help protect you no matter your holiday weekend activities is a Personal Umbrella Policy. If you’re involved in an accident or a guest is injured on your property, you could be held liable. A Personal Umbrella Policy provides coverage above and beyond your primary auto or home policies for an extra layer of protection. Watch this video to learn more and then contact your independent insurance agent about this valuable coverage!

The information above is of a general nature and your policy and coverages provided may differ from the examples provided. Please read your policy in its entirety to determine your actual coverage available.

Products underwritten by Central Mutual Insurance Company and affiliated companies.

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

Tesla offers car insurance in California with plans to expand nationwide

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SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla owners in California can now buy insurance from the electric car company in what may be the first step toward the unconventional automaker providing coverage for a fleet of driverless taxis.

The expansion announced Wednesday comes four months after Tesla CEO Elon Musk told analysts the company would branch into insuring its own cars for people who buy or lease them. Musk believes Tesla has learned so much about its cars that it will be able to offer rates 20% to 30% below those offered by traditional insurers. That will likely to appeal to Tesla owners who have been complaining about being charged too much for coverage.

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Although the insurance is only being sold in California to start, Tesla plans to offer coverage throughout the U.S. at a later undisclosed state.

The policies will only be for personal usage of the Tesla cars, but the Palo Alto, California, company also wants to eventually offer commercial policies.

It’s a move Tesla may have to take if Musk is to deliver on his promise to begin selling Tesla vehicles capable of navigating roads without a driver behind the wheel within the next 16 months. Self-driving car experts believe that is unlikely to happen, but Musk has promised to have a fleet of robotic Teslas operating as part of a ride-hailing service by the end of next year.

To make that vision a reality, the driverless cars will need commercial insurance — something no company but Tesla may be willing to provide, given it probably will be exploring uncharted territory if it’s able to dispatch fully autonomous vehicles to pick up passengers.

Selling insurance will also provide Tesla with another source of revenue as it tries to prove it can consistently make money. The company was profitable during the last half of last year — the longest stretch of prosperity in its history — but has lost another $1.1 billion during the first half of this year. Those losses could rise even higher if Tesla miscalculates the risks of selling auto insurance.

Tesla’s disappointing financial performance and escalating doubts about its future prospects have caused its stock to plunge 35% so far this year.

Tesla believes it has learned so much about the technology, safety and repair costs of its cars that it will be able to figure out the proper prices to charge for each policy. Its electric cars are equipped with so many sensors that the company could theoretically monitor whether the drivers are prone to chronic speeding or habitually engaging in other risky behavior, but Tesla says it won’t do that.

Don’t Forget Your Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection!

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It’s that time of year again…end of summer break! Some parents try to squeeze in last-minute vacations with their kids before the break comes to an end. Or maybe, school just started, and it’s time for the fall sports season, which means more traveling to regional schools for away games. It’s a busy time of year for many families, so it’s easy to forget to inspect your vehicle before taking off on a road trip. Here are a few important things to check on your vehicle before speeding off to your destination.

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  • Windshield wipers – Make sure your wipers are working properly and don’t leave streaks that impair your vision.
  • Lights – Verify all lights on your car are working. This includes headlights (low beam and high beam), tail lights, brake lights, turn signal lights, reverse lights, and hazard lights.
  • Brakes – Brake pads should be at least 5 mm thick.
  • Fluids – Make sure your coolant, oil, and brake fluid levels aren’t low and check the ground beneath where your car is parked to ensure nothing is leaking.
  • Tires – Tread depth should be checked, along with tire pressure.
  • Spare Tire – Make sure you have a spare tire that’s fully inflated and a car jack and lug wrench to remove a tire if the spare is needed.
  • Steering – Take your car for a quick test drive down the road and see if your car heavily pulls to the right or left when you let go of the steering wheel. If so, your alignment may need to be corrected.

Of course, you always hope your trip goes well, but in case something does go wrong while on the road, you’ll also want an emergency kit that includes items like a flashlight, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, blankets, extra phone chargers, etc. Roadside Assistance is also a great tool that many insurance carriers include in their auto policies. Talk to your local independent insurance agent to see if your auto policy includes Roadside Assistance, to learn more about it, or to add it to your policy!

Safe travels everyone!

Here’s a video from Central for more tips:

https://www.wheels24.co.za/News/10-things-you-need-to-check-in-your-car-before-your-road-trip-20171221-2

https://www.bryantmotors.com/car-buying-guide/road-trip-maintenance.html

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

School Bus Safety For Kids By a Kid!

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Sometimes the best way to share information with your child is for them to hear it from another child! Check out this video by 10-year-old Drayden for some important school bus safety tips!

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School bus safety tips highlighted in this video include:

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Visit the Car, Road & Bus Safety page at elementarysafety.com with your children for fun activities to teach them more about school bus safety.

Source: https://www.central-insurance.com/docs/tips-SchoolBus.htm

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

Insurance answers for gig drivers

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When it comes to auto insurance for rideshare driving, the most important thing you, as a rideshare driver, need to know is that personal insurance policies do not cover you or your vehicle if you use the vehicle for any kind of commercial purpose whatsoever. And driving for Uber and Lyft counts as a commercial purpose. So, while it is required that you have personal auto insurance in order to drive for Uber and Lyft, that insurance will not cover any claims that may arise while you’re driving for Uber and Lyft.

 What Uber and Lyft’s insurance covers

As luck would have it, Uber and Lyft both provide an insurance policy that does cover you while you’re driving for them. However, it doesn’t cover everything. To be fully covered, you’re going to need something more.

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First, let’s take a look at what Uber’s insurance does cover. There are three phases Uber covers for drivers (and Lyft’s insurance is very similar).

  • Phase 1: Sign-In — This is the period when you have logged into the app to let Uber know you’re available for trip requests, but you have not yet received a trip request. You, as a driver, are covered for liability claims in varying amounts, depending on your state. But whatever the amount is for you, it’s the minimum amount allowed by law. Typically for injuries, it is $50,000 in bodily injury per person up to a maximum of $100,000 in bodily injury per accident. There is $25,000 in coverage for property damage done to others’ property (not yours) per accident.
  • Phase 2 (Acceptance) and Phase 3 (Transporting a Passenger(s)) — This coverage kicks in from the moment you accept a trip request from a passenger and it concludes when you drop the passenger off and tap the app to signal to Uber that the trip is complete. These two phases are covered for higher amounts. Generally in this phase, you have $1 million in liability coverage and at least $250,000 for injuries caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers. As long as you have physical-damage coverage (also known as “comprehensive” insurance), your property, namely your vehicle, will be covered by Uber — if an accident occurs while you’re on the way to pick up a passenger or while you have them in the car. This comprehensive vehicle insurance comes with a $1,000 deductible.

Am I covered through my own insurance?

There are a few things to note here. First, in Phase 1, Uber’s insurance only protects you from the financial liability you would incur if you’re involved in an accident and you injure someone or you do damage to someone else’s property. The Phase 1 insurance does not protect you for any injuries or damages to your own property that you may sustain. You will need your own insurance for that.

The second thing to note is that in Phases 2 and 3, your property is only covered if you have comprehensive insurance from your own personal insurance company. If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, then Uber’s insurance will not cover any damage to your property.

This is a little tricky because a lot of people don’t realize that there are two separate parts to auto insurance. There is liability insurance, which covers any damage you may do to others and there is comprehensive insurance that covers any damage others may do to your property, like your car.

And keep in mind that just because you have auto insurance that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have comprehensive insurance. Everyone is required by state law to have liability insurance. But most people are not required by law to have comprehensive coverage. If you purchased the absolute cheapest insurance your insurance company would allow you to buy, there is a chance you may not have comprehensive and you should check that out before engaging in rideshare driving.

What kind of coverage do I need to drive for Uber and Lyft?

There is one last thing you should be aware of, and this is probably the most important. If you have an accident while driving for Uber or Lyft, you will be required by Uber and Lyft to report it first to your own insurance company. It is expected that your insurance company will deny the claim since you were doing rideshare driving, but Uber and Lyft must have this denial before they will proceed with their coverage. In other words, they will not accept your claim until your insurer first denies it.

This is something that has gotten many a rideshare driver into big trouble. Because under a standard auto insurance policy you will not be covered if you’re using your vehicle for a commercial activity, such as driving passengers for-hire. Therefore, if you submit a claim to them, they will not only deny your claim but they will cancel your insurance policy at the same time! Since you definitely don’t want that to happen, you will have to look into getting a rideshare endorsement on your policy. This is extra insurance, that will cost you more, but it will allow your insurance company to cover you when you’re doing rideshare driving.

However, this is where you may run into a problem, because not all auto insurers offer rideshare endorsements at this time. Many more do than did a few years ago, but, you may have to switch to a different insurer to get it. The good news is more insurers are offering it all the time as rideshare driving becomes more mainstream. The bad news is about 40% of rideshare drivers today are paying a minimum of $100 per month for it, on top of their regular insurance premium. But shop around because some drivers are paying as little as $20-$30 in addition to their regular insurance for the rideshare endorsement.

The last thing to note is that liability insurance only protects you from being held financially responsible for paying for injuries to other people or for damage to their property. Liability insurance does not protect you financially for any injuries you may sustain, nor does it cover any damage done to your property, such as your car. So, when you’re in Phase 1 — waiting for a ride request — the only way you and your car can be covered is by having a rideshare endorsement from your personal insurance company. 

To be fully covered and protected while doing rideshare driving, you’ll need to have both liability and comprehensive insurance from your own personal insurance company. You will also need a rideshare endorsement so your insurance company won’t cancel you in the event of an accident while you’re logged into a rideshare app. If you have all that, then you should have no trouble at all getting your bills paid in case you’re ever involved in an accident.

Related Articles: 

Drivers of these cars are most likely to have speeding tickets

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  • Image Credit: Subaru

It’s not the color, it’s the speed

According to Insurify.com, which examined insurance applications from 1.6 million drivers, a little over 11% of all drivers in the United States have at least one speeding ticket on their records. And while it’s certainly true that drivers get speeding tickets, not cars, it’s interesting to see that the drivers of certain vehicles are much more likely to get tickets than others.

Roses

As you’ll see, some of the vehicles that seem to attract the attention of lead-footed drivers and radar-toting officers alike aren’t what you’d consider traditionally sporty. Some, on the other hand, make perfect sense. Insurify notes that every vehicle on this list has a suggested starting price that’s lower than the current national average, which is noteworthy because data from the Center of Disease Control indicates that younger drivers who would seemingly be looking for relatively inexpensive vehicles are more likely to speed than older motorists.

You may also notice that all of the vehicles we’ve chosen to put into this slideshow are red. In reality, there’s no real data that indicates red cars are more likely to get tickets than any other color, but red cars surely do stand out and it’s a known stereotype, so why not have a little fun with it?

Without further ado, click on the image above to get started.

  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Veloster

Coming in at number 10 is the Hyundai Veloster, an oddball little three-door that has been on sale since the 2012 model year. Its relatively inexpensive price and its sporty demeanor are cited as reasons why its drivers may attract more tickets than average.

According to Insurify, the Veloster boasts the second-lowest retail price on the list. Nearly 15 percent of Veloster owners in their database have gotten at least one speeding ticket.

Hyundai Veloster Information

Hyundai Veloster

  • Image Credit: Subaru

Subaru Impreza

Next up is the Subaru Impreza, available as either a four-door sedan or hatchback. The Impreza’s inclusion on this list seems a little strange since it’s not overtly sporty, but it does foreshadow the model that sits at the top (or bottom, depending on your point of view).

Subaru Impreza Information

Subaru Impreza

  • Image Credit: Infiniti

Infiniti G37

Infiniti hasn’t sold a G37 since the 2013 model year, having replaced the G-named sedan with the newer Q50 and the G Coupe with the Q60. But since this list isn’t limited to brand-new vehicles, the older G37 makes an appearance. We went with the sporty two-door for the image above.

Infiniti Q60 Information

Infiniti Q60

  • Image Credit: Dodge

Dodge Dart

Dodge sold this compact version of the Dart from 2012 through 2016. The little sedan was variously equipped with a range of four-cylinder engines, some of them turbocharged, that produced between 160 and 184 horsepower. With a starting price of $16,995 when new, Insurify says it’s the least expensive vehicle on this list.

Dodge Dart Information

Dodge Dart

  • Image Credit: Ram

Ram 2500

The Ram 2500 is an outlier on this list. It’s the only pickup truck on the list of vehicles driven by owners with speeding tickets on their records, and it’s the type of heavy duty machine you’d expect to see parked at a jobsite or hauling heavy loads on the highway.

Ram 2500 Information

Ram 2500

  • Image Credit: Jeep

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited falls into fifth place. Like the Ram 2500 that we saw at number six, the Wrangler isn’t a vehicle you’d traditionally expect on a list of vehicles that attract speeding tickets. Still, according to Insurify, 15% of four-door Jeep Wrangler drivers have speeding violations on their record.

Jeep Wrangler Information

Jeep Wrangler

  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe has been out of production since the 2016 model year. Throughout the course of its existence, it was powered by either a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a more powerful 3.8-liter V6. Drivers of the Genesis Coupe are 25% more likely to have a speeding ticket on their records than average.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe Information

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

  • Image Credit: Volkswagen

Volkswagen GTI

As the quintessential hot hatchback, we’re not surprised to see the Volkswagen GTI on this list of vehicles owned by drivers with speeding tickets. The little German machine is quick, refined, popular and relatively affordable.

Volkswagen GTI Information

Volkswagen GTI

  • Image Credit: Scion

Scion FR-S

In second place (from the bottom) is the Scion FR-S. It was updated and rebranded in 2017 as the Toyota 86, and it’s also sold with minor changes as the Subaru BRZ. Interestingly enough, it’s the older Scion version that appears on this list of vehicles owned by drivers with speeding tickets, though we’d wager that the newer Toyota and similar Subaru versions probably aren’t far behind.

Toyota 86 Information

Toyota 86

  • Image Credit: Subaru

Subaru WRX

And the winner is … the Subaru WRX. More than 20 percent of WRX owners have a speeding ticket on their records, which, as Insurify points out, is a 60% higher rate than average. An upgraded WRX STI with even more horsepower (310 versus 268) is also available, which probably helps boost its ticket-magnet status a few extra points.

Subaru WRX Information

Subaru WRX

Be Smart, Be Safe: School Bus Safety Tips

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Summer has come and gone once again. Parents are getting excited, but kids are dreading their final days or weeks before school starts again. As we gear up for the school year, it’s important to educate ourselves on school bus safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind for this school year:

  1. Slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to get to and from your destination. Being in a hurry can be a distraction.
  2. Be prepared to stop. The law states a driver must stop for a school bus regardless of what side of the road they are on. Always remember to keep a safe distance due to frequent and sudden stops. Failure to stop puts children in danger, and the driver can be fined and penalized.
  3. Be alert. Always look for children on the sidewalks, streets, or bus stops. Whether you are backing out of your driveway, driving on a country road, or through a school zone – always look for children.
  4. Learn school bus laws. Each state is different. Take the time to get familiar with your state’s laws regarding school buses.
  5. Have insurance. Be prepared. You can take all the necessary measures to prevent an accident, but they still happen. Make sure your insurance will provide coverage in case of an accident.

Have questions regarding your policy? Contact your local independent agent to make sure you are prepared for this school year and years to come.

To read more, please see this previous blog article titled: School Safety Saves Lives

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

Is Your New Car Covered Under Your Auto Insurance Policy?

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You’ve been patiently searching for the perfect new car. You just signed your name on that last piece of endless paperwork. Now, with keys in hand, it’s finally time to drive off the lot. 

But as you take in that new car smell, a thought suddenly crosses your mind: Do I have insurance? 

Good news: If you’re an Erie Insurance customer, the short answer is usually “yes.” Here are some common questions about how insurance works when buying a new car.
 

DO I HAVE INSURANCE WHEN I DRIVE MY NEW CAR OFF THE LOT?

When you’re with ERIE, your current auto policy doesn’t just vanish when you trade in your old vehicle. As long as your new vehicle is titled in your name, your coverage carries over when you buy a new vehicle of the same type. 

So, if you already have a car insured with ERIE and you’re buying a car, the coverage rollover applies. But if you’re buying a first-time motorcycle or RV, your auto coverage won’t roll over since you’re buying a different type of vehicle. (Read more about insurance for miscellaneous vehicles.) 

If you’re buying an additional vehicle, your new car will have the broadest coverage purchased on any vehicle on your ERIE policy for your household. 

Here’s an example: Let’s say you, your spouse and your teenage son are all on the same ERIE policy. Your spouse’s newer SUV is covered with high limits and multiple endorsements, like ERIE Auto Plus and Roadside Service Coverage. However, you opted not to get all the bells and whistles on your teenage son’s old high-mileage clunker. When you buy a new car, the broadest coverage – in this example, what’s on your spouse’s SUV – is what will temporarily apply to your new ride.

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO REPORT A NEW CAR?

If you you’re actively car shopping, it’s smart to talk to your agent ahead of time. If you’re looking at a specific make and model – say, a certain zippy hybrid or a four-wheel-drive pickup – your agent can help you estimate what you’ll pay in premium and suggest ways to save. 

Remember to report any changes promptly to your ERIE agent. If you forget, don’t stress: You’ve got wiggle room. Don’t wait too long, though, since your ERIE agent can help you personalize your policy with coverage that might make sense for your new vehicle but not your old one, like the New Auto Security Coverage Endorsement. 

In general, here’s how things work with three common types of coverage: 

  • Liability coverage: Let us know about your new vehicle before the end of your policy period. (Wondering what to expect when your policy renews? Check out our Auto Insurance Renewal Guide Infographic.) If you buy your new vehicle within 30 days of the end of your policy, you have some wiggle room. Just make sure you report it to us within 60 days after acquisition, purchase or lease.
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage: When these roll over from your existing policy, the lowest deductible applies. If you didn’t have comprehensive and collision on your old car, you have a 7-day grace period from time of acquisition, purchase or lease where you’re covered with a $500 deductible.

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO REPORT A NEW VEHICLE?

Have this information on hand to report your new car to your insurance agent: 

  • Make, model and year
  • Expected annual mileage
  • General usage information (such as how far you drive to work)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Titling and lienholder information

WHAT IF I’M BUYING A CAR ON THE WEEKEND?

See the grace periods listed above. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your ERIE agent on the next business day after acquiring your vehicle, though. That way, they can get everything updated and personalized to protect your new ride.

If you need to verify your coverage during or after normal business hours, contact Customer Care at (800) 458-0811 between 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

WILL MY INSURANCE GO UP IF I BUY A NEW CAR?

You could see some changes to your insurance premiums when you buy a new car. Remember: What you pay on your auto insurance bill depends largely on two factors: what you drive, and how you drive. 

Safer cars do a better job protecting the people inside them. So if your new vehicle has high safety ratings (as determined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), it’s usually less expensive to insure than a model that didn’t fare so well in crash tests. Car alarms and anti-theft tracking devices can lower your premium, too. 

Your local ERIE agent can help explain the different factors that affect your rates and suggest ways to save. Want to learn more? Get an in-depth look at what determines the price of your auto insurance or read about these 7 common auto insurance discounts.
 

WHAT INSURANCE DO I NEED WHEN BUYING A NEW CAR?

It’s true: A new car depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot. That means if your car gets totaled, you could be in a tough spot if the actual cash value of your car is less than what you still owe on your car loan.

Good news: There’s a smart way to protect your investment. Talk to your local ERIE agent about adding the New Auto Security Coverage Endorsement* to your ERIE auto policy for a few extra dollars per month.

Buying a used car? The endorsement also offers “better vehicle replacement” for older vehicles. That means if yours gets totaled, we’ll replace it with a same or similar make of vehicle up to two model years newer with up to 30,000 fewer miles.

It’s just one more way we’re looking out for you. Learn more about auto insurance from ERIE or talk to your local agent for details.

Justin Metz and Abby Badach Doyle contributed to this story.

*A vehicle is considered new when it is less than two years old. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage and replacement must be made with a comparable model. The endorsement is sold on a per-vehicle basis, not per policy, and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage is not available in all states. Please refer to our disclaimer and talk to an ERIE agent for policy details.

Don’t expect your car’s safety tech to reduce insurance costs

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RUCKERSVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – Automakers are accelerating the rollout of technology designed to avoid crashes, but insurance companies are waving a caution flag at consumers eyeing discounts for buying cars with suites of accident avoidance technologies. 

The global market for such systems is expected to reach more than $67 billion by 2025, growing more than 10% each year. A group of 20 carmakers has pledged to outfit almost every new vehicle with forward collision warning and city-speed automatic emergency braking by 2020.

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Government mandates to install technology such as collision-avoiding automatic braking systems are driving the market, as is the promise of profits for these higher-margin vehicles.

“Anybody that has been in a car with advanced safety solutions is not going to go back,” Kevin Clark, chief executive of auto technology supplier Aptiv PLC told Reuters. The cost for advanced safety systems – automatic braking, lane keeping and adaptive cruise control – can be relatively low to the automaker, between $500 to $1,000 per vehicle, Clark said.

“The (manufacturer) can price for it and consumers will pay for it,” he said.

Aptiv expects to book more than $4 billion in new safety tech business this year. “We have gone from five customers just a few years ago to I think we’ll have north of 20 in a couple of years from now,” Clark said.

The insurance industry’s perspective is different.

Personal auto insurance, while traditionally a low-margin business, provides the largest amount of liquidity to insurers, generating more than $244 billion in 2018 direct premiums in the United States alone, data by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners showed. Car insurance is also seen as a way for insurance companies to cross-sell other, more lucrative products to customers.

According to Swiss Re AG, the world’s largest auto reinsurer, and mapping company HERE, safety tech has the potential to reduce motor accident frequencies by up to 25%, cutting global insurance premiums for safety-tech-equipped cars by $20 billion by 2020.

But U.S. insurers said they currently do not have sufficient data to validate auto industry promises of safety benefits from automated driving systems.

They cite car manufacturers’ reluctance to provide detailed information on models sold with those features, a lack of consistent standards, drivers’ unpredictable use of the systems and higher repair costs.

“We’re not going to go against the data and create any type of false discounts for the purposes of marketing at this point. We just want to make sure the rate is reflective of the risk that it brings,” said Steve Armstrong, a vice president of Allstate Corp’s pricing department, one of America’s largest insurers.

Shantelle Thomas, also a vice president at Allstate’s pricing department, said insurance rates will reflect benefits and costs of modern auto technology in the next five years, but will not necessarily be presented as discounts.

The sentiment was echoed by other insurance providers.

“We’re stuck in a murky in-between,” said Jennifer St. John, national auto claims leader at Westfield Insurance. “(Safety tech features) have shown to provide real world benefits, but there really isn’t a great deal of commonality in terms of what’s out there.”

Insurers pointed to higher repair costs as a risk. Sensors and cameras central to automatic driving systems are mostly installed in a car’s bumper or windshield. Research by AAA has shown repair costs for even minor collisions can double if such sensors are damaged.

“There’s no such thing as a $300 bumper anymore. It’s closer to $1,500 in repair costs nowadays,” said Richard Lavey, executive vice president at The Hanover Insurance Group.

State Farm in a statement said it did not offer discounts specific to advanced driver assistance systems and that future rates would be shaped by a variety of factors, including safety, regulation, underwriting, liability and repair costs.

GEICO did not respond to requests for comment.

DATA DESERT

With new automated driving features being released on a rolling basis, insurers said it is difficult to keep up.

Forward collision warning with automatic braking has been found to have one of the greatest safety benefits among various driver assistance systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in a recent study that automatic braking could reduce front-to-rear crashes with injuries by 56%.

But most safety tech features are still sold as optional equipment, making it impossible for insurance companies to validate which features ultimately end up on a specific car. Insurers are reluctant to trust car buyers to correctly identify what technology their vehicle has on board.

Advanced safety features not only differ in performance and description among different manufacturers, but even among models by the same automaker, according to research by IIHS and its UK equivalent Thatcham Research, which conduct road tests to evaluate safety tech performance.

“The only way you can adequately price is by getting more data to understand what a vehicle has and whether it makes a difference,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s research director.

That data is not sufficiently provided by manufactures who often cite proprietary and competitive reasons, said Tom Karol, general counsel of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, whose members insure more than 170 million U.S. auto policyholders.

Automakers and insurers said they are dealing with the data issues. General Motors has a team working on safety tech and insurance, according to Barry Engle, head of GM’s North American operations.

Engle said he expects with better information, the insurance industry would respond positively. “To the extent that they are not, collectively we need to do a better job of communicating with one another,” he said.

Swiss Re is leading efforts to develop a global safety tech risk score and a mechanism allowing carmakers to supply data to Swiss Re, which in turn will recommend discounts to auto insurers. 

“If we say these cars are safer, insurers are more prone to believe us as we take part of the risk” as a reinsurer for consumer-facing auto policy writers, said Sebastiaan Bongers, Swiss Re’s head of products and technology.

Bongers believes reductions in accident frequency and severity will eventually offset higher repair costs. But he said lower premiums could result in temporary liquidity problems in the insurance sector in about 10 years.

Swiss Re so far has partnered with BMW and is in talks with more auto manufacturers to develop a comprehensive system.

Business Vehicles and Your Personal Auto Policy

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Personal business car

It has become more and more popular that people are owning and running their own business these days. I mean, who doesn’t want to be their own boss? Though, what does that mean for your vehicles and auto insurance? Depending on the type of business, who drives the vehicles, and what they’re used for, you may be able to keep your vehicles insured under your personal auto policy.

The types of businesses that are typically considered acceptable when keeping your business vehicle on your personal auto policy are:

  • Real Estate Agents
  • Consultants
  • Lawyers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Doctors

Most any business where you (or family members in your household) are still the sole operator of the vehicle, and you are not transporting any goods for delivery, is considered an acceptable exposure for your personal auto policy. If you have employees that regularly operate your vehicles, then that is more suited for a commercial policy.

The weight of the vehicle also plays into the equation – vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight do not qualify for a personal auto policy.

If you are using your vehicle for any type of delivery, like pizza, postal, floral, hazardous materials, etc., it would need to be insured commercially. Also, any type of transportation for hire, such as a taxi, daycare, elderly care, etc., would need commercial insurance. An exception to the transportation for hire rule might exist when you are working for a transportation network company, such as Uber or Lyft. You should consult with your auto insurers to make sure you still have coverage.  Many auto carriers have developed personal auto policy endorsements specifically for these ridesharing activities that clearly provide coverage for these type of situations.

Finally, many people are provided with a company vehicle to drive for business and personal use. In this case, you typically have coverage under the company’s commercial policy. Depending on your employer’s requirements, it is never a bad idea to cover yourself on your own personal auto policy, as well, which can be done easily with an add-on endorsement.

Check with your independent agent to find the best-suited policy for your needs.

Click here to learn more about Insurance 101: Personal Auto Coverages.

The information above is of a general nature and your policy and coverages provided may differ from the examples provided. Please read your policy in its entirety to determine your actual coverage available.

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